2k21 Next-Gen Gameplay: A Clear Step Forward

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 22: NBA2K players at UNLOCKED, a dedicated gaming lounge within the BET Experience at Staples Center on June 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

NBA 2K has released a snippet of next-gen gameplay with commentary from Visual Concepts executive producer Erick Boenisch and gameplay director Mike Wang.

Graphically, the past few iterations of NBA 2K have remained relatively the same. However, there is a clear step forward in the next-gen graphics.

Everyone loves to joke about 2K adding more sweat every year, but the faces are for sure more lively. Here is a side-by-side of Klay Thompson on PS4 and PS5.

NBA 2K21 PS5 Graphics Quality Dunks All Over PS4 In Side-By-Side Comparison  Video | HotHardware
Image courtesy of Hot Hardware

The trailer first started with the PlayNow menu. No longer do users need to go through countless loading screens to edit lineups and matchups. The trailer showed players could hop right into a game in a matter of seconds.

The arena and lighting were a step up. The crowd didn’t have a copy and pasted faces. The lighting off the court looked real. A whole new commentary crew was added to the game, along with new guest commentators.

On the level of gameplay, Boesnich and Wang discussed the new foot planting technology. In the past 2K’s, your player would feel like they were sliding on the court, especially online. Based on the trailer, each move seemed to correlate with a player taking steps and not covering an unrealistic amount of ground.


This foot planting technology could be a positive sign into another issue that has plagued 2K for so long: latency.

The player base has dealt with massive latency for all online play. At times the game feels unplayable and frustrating as button input registers too late, and openings in the defense disappear quickly. On the flip side, defenders can’t make quick cuts and respond to the left stick moves the user is inputting. Overall, the exceptionally high latency online made every 2K feel lethargic compared to offline.

Despite making gameplay improvements every year, the bottom line is that it’s hard to experience these new features with hundreds of milliseconds latency.

On the bright side, the foot planting technology and overall higher game specs on next-gen consoles could reduce latency. If this new feature is noticeable, it can make the game feel responsive and fun to play online.  

Based on all the news 2K has put out regarding next-gen 2K from the new MyPlayer Builder, less loading times, improved graphics, and responsiveness, next-gen 2K21 could be one of the most groundbreaking 2Ks ever.

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